First Family of Sports Award 2016
Molly, Mike, Nick, Pat
Molly (back row, second from right)
Nick & Mike
Rosie (coach), second row, second on right
Mullen's 50th Anniversary
By Todd Milles
The (Tacoma) News Tribune
All that you needed to know about Bill Mullen could be found in his meticulously-organized backyard garden near Lincoln High School.
Rows of cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes and rhubarb were neatly constructed. well-manicured and ready for picking.
“He loved that garden,” said Mike Mullen, Bill’s son.
And all that you needed to know about Jim Ennis could be found in his decorated home office in Everett.
An ebullient personality, Ennis had a framed photo of him and fiery Notre Dame legend Knute Rockne hanging on the wall.
“Because of his involvement with state and national (athletics), he knew and was friends with many famous athletes,” Mullen said.
Rarely do two bloodlines intersect to form one of the super-sized families of athletes and coaches the state of Washington has ever seen.
That is exactly what happened here nearly 50 years ago when Mike Mullen and Rosie Ennis wed on May 28, 1965.
“When the Ennis’s got together with the Mullens, it was more sports talk and debating issues – stuff like that,” said Pat Mullen, one of Bill and Jim’s grandsons.
And yet, that wedding wasn’t the first time the two families met. Back in the late 1930s, Jim Ennis, then a catcher, traveled up to Sedro-Woolley to play for the Northern State Hospital summer all-star baseball team, then managed by Bill Mullen.
Bill, a Lincoln High graduate, was one of Tacoma’s greatest baseball players in the 1920s. He went to Washington State University as a catcher to play with legendary coach Buck Bailey, and also played exhibition games against a barnstorming teams of major-league stars, notably slugger Babe Ruth and outfielder Bob Meusel.
He then turned to coaching for the next 20 years at his alma mater at Lincoln. He coached football, basketball and baseball, and founded the school’s boxing club.
“We lived right next to Lincoln Bowl. On Thanksgiving Day, the whole family would meet and go down for the annual Turkey Bowl game,” Mike said. “That was tradition for us.”
Bill was regarded as quietly demanding, a fierce strategist but extremely fair with his athletes.
“When I was growing up, a lot of his players would stop by the house – past and present,” Mike said. “He was just so widely respected.”
Jim Ennis was equally well-versed in baseball. A fiery competitor and a master motivator, he was a two-sport standout in baseball and football for the College of Puget Sound (now UPS) in Tacoma.
Jim coached at WSU and St. Martin’s, but was primarily known for all the years he spent at Everett High School, guiding an undefeated Seagulls’ boys basketball squad to the 1941 state title, then becoming the school’s athletic director.
Bill and Lauren Mullen had three children – Maureen, Mike (basketball, track) and Sheila (tennis).
Jim and Ann Ennis had five children – Jim Jr. (basketball), Terry (football; Hall of Famer won 287 games and three state titles as head coach at Bellarmine Prep, Renton, Cascade of Everett, Archbishop Murphy), Toni, Molly and Rosie.
And in 1964, the two families mingled – again.
Mike Mullen and a friend went to see jazz musician Wayne Simon at the Brass Monkey in downtown Tacoma on a Sunday afternoon.
At the club, they noticed two young women sitting at a table. One of them was Rosie Ennis.
“The music was in the distance,” Mike said. “We talked all day.”
And they also ended up shooting hoops later in the evening at Stewart Junior High School where Mike worked.
Mike and Rosie dated for a year, got married and had three children – Pat, Molly and Nick.
*Mike was the patriarch who was well on his way to becoming one of the area’s best boys basketball coaches. He won five city junior high titles at Stewart (1961-68), then served as an assistant coach at Curtis High School under Jerry Redberg when the Vikings won the 1971 state title.
Mike moved on to become the head coach at Decatur and Olympia, but made his biggest mark at Bethel.
From 1978-1996, he won 271 games and led the Braves to four South Puget Sound League titles, one West Central District crown (1988) and 10 state-tournament appearances.
In 2000, Mike was inducted into the Washington State Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
*Rosie didn’t play a sport, but was a cheerleader at Everett High School. She ended up becoming a physical-education teacher, and coached volleyball, basketball and softball at Mount Tahoma (1977-91).
And their children followed in their footsteps:
*Pat, 48, played basketball for his father at Bethel (1984-86), then went on to Tacoma CC and UPS.
He eventually replaced his father as the Bethel coach for 15 seasons, winning the Class 4A state title in 2005. He is currently the coach at Emerald Ridge.
He married college sweetheart Jill Fox, a former All-American volleyball player at UPS. They have two children – Jenna, now playing volleyball at Portland State, and Jadyn, a sophomore at Emerald Ridge. Both girls played under Jill’s guidance at Emerald Ridge high where she has been the co-head coach for the past six seasons.
*Molly, 46, was a captain of the Bethel volleyball team (1985-86). After attending Western Washington University, she eventually coached volleyball for four seasons at Renton High School.
Married to longtime Fife boys coach Mark Schelbert, Molly is the assistant director of career and college readiness for the Bethel School District. They have two children who play multiple sports – Macy, a Fife graduate, and Cooper, who is a sophomore at Fife.
*Nick, 39, played football and basketball at Bethel. He then went on to play on the defensive line at UPS (1995-98).
He took over as the head football coach at Timberline in 2007, and stepped down to become athletic director last year. He and his wife, Julie, have two younger children – Sullivan and McKinley.
As the baby of the family, Nick spent many weekends with both sets of grandparents, participating in family get-togethers – and catching the baseball with both grandfathers.
“What I did know about both families is they never wanted credit for anything,” Nick said. “They just did sports because they loved it.”